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An Tóstal revival celebrates 70th anniversary of traditional racing in Galway Bay


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

An Tóstal revival celebrates 70th anniversary of traditional racing in Galway Bay An Tóstal revival celebrates 70th anniversary of traditional racing in Galway Bay

This weekend sees Salthill host two-day gathering of traditional currachs and rowers at Ladies Beach – reviving a tradition that goes back for most of a century.

An Tóstal – or the Gathering – has been brought back to life by the combined efforts of the Galway Hooker Sailing Club, in partnership with The Salthill Village, Blackrock Cottage, the Gráinne Mhaol Rowing Club, and Galway City Council.

This celebration of Galway’s maritime life and seafaring customs will see the traditional racing currachs and rowers gather at Ladies Beach in Salthill for the first time in ten years.

The foundation for this gathering was laid out in the early 1950s, and Tóstal na Gaillimhe of 1953 marked the beginning of the All-Ireland Currach Racing Championships. Dignitaries and thousands of spectators gathered to witness the rowers compete for championship titles and glory.

For 2023, the two-day gathering will take place this Saturday and Sunday and will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the original Tóstal na Gaillimhe.

The event will feature male, female, and junior traditional currach racing rowers alongside sliding seat rowers.

The currachaí will be provided by Cóiste Lár na gCurrachaí for the duration of the festival and we are delighted to have the support of the previous festival director of 2011-2013, who is working closely with us to ensure the success of An Tóstal 2023.

Ciaran Oliver of the Galway Hooker Sailing Club said they were thrilled to bring back the tradition of An Tóstal to Salthill in celebration of its 70th anniversary.

“Our aims is to deliver an exciting two-day event that celebrates the rich maritime culture of Galway Bay,” he said.

The event is a revival of a national celebration of maritime life and customs that was initiated in 1953 by Bord Fáilte and continued till 1959.

An Tóstal was revived in 2011 after a long wait of 57 years, and the winning crew of 1955 officiated at the opening ceremony before races began.

In 2012, new trophies were presented for the senior men’s race and junior category, and racing continued with different crews winning in each category. The weather conditions were perfect for racing, with boats of different sizes out on the water.

In the expectation of similarly good weather conditions on Saturday, the Gráinne Mhaol Rowing Club will be hosting ‘Try Rowing’ sessions and the Galway Hooker Sailing Club will be hosting ‘Try Sailing’ sessions for those curious about getting started.

Galway Bay promises a spectacle of red sails as the iconic Galway Hooker fleet – along with other local sailing clubs – take to the water.

There will also be plenty of family-friendly activities and entertainment on shore throughout the weekend.

Live music performances by local artists will also feature, adding to the festive atmosphere. With something for everyone, An Tóstal is a free event that promises to be a fun-filled weekend for the whole family.

(Photo: Margaret Jenkins, Fáilte Ireland, Collette Furey, Galway Hooker Sailing Club and Finian Hanley, Blackrock Cottage and Salthill Village as preparations are getting underway for “An Tostál”).

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